Monthly Archives: December 2015

The executive of Carleton University’s Board of Governors has publicly proffered the following claims that contradict the Board’s own bylaws:

  • “The Board members are not elected representatives of a constituency nor do they report to a constituency.”
  • Board members are “legally mandated to act in the best interests of the university as a whole and not as a representative of any group, stakeholder or particular interest.”

Article 2.2 of the bylaws states “The Board shall consist of the following as Governors, serving either ex officio or nominated by the constituencies set forth below”. The phrase ‘nominated by the constituencies’ is memorialized in the Board’s bylaws.

My constituents, Carleton University’s academic staff, elected me to the Board of Governors. The following e-mail dated 28 March 2013, sent to the academic staff, quoted in its entirety, with my annotations in square brackets, is from the Secretary of the Board of Governors and was copied to Carleton’s general counsel. Note how the Board officially described this as an election, which was by constituents.

The slate of candidates for the Faculty/Librarian position on the Board of Governors has been set. We have two exceptional candidates:

  • [Name and Department Redacted]
  • Root Gorelick (Department of Biology)

Biographical material on the candidates is posted on the following website: [information at this link has been overwritten by subsequent elections]

The election will be done online on April 2nd, 3rd and 4th. You will receive an invitation by email to vote on the morning of April 2nd, and then reminders on the 3rd and 4th.

Please take part in this important election to select your nominee to the Board.

The election by my constituents was akin to a primary election in the U.S., with final approval of nominees to the Board supposedly to be approved by the full Board of Governors per bylaw Article 2.4. Final approval by the full Board has either been pro forma or, for the most recently installed Governors, did not occur at all (see here). There also exists “Board of Governors Candidate’s Handbooks” for non-academic and academic staff (here and here), providing rules regarding campaigning and voting. That should dispel further specious arguments that staff, senate, student, and alumni members of the Board are not elected by their constituents. But that still leaves the issue of who members of the Board that are nominated by their constituents are supposed to represent while sitting on Carleton’s Board of Governors.

There exists a term-of-art for those who represent the entire universe of stakeholders, namely “at-large”. Carleton University should be familiar with that terminology insofar as its Board of Governors has eighteen “at-large” members chosen from “the community”, which apparently means anybody except current university staff or students. The at-large members are not elected by any constituencies, but rather are selected by existing members, per bylaw Article 2.2.(xi), and therefore primarily owe allegiance to each other. These eighteen at-large Governors do not necessarily view community interests through academic eyes and therefore do not necessarily understand the importance of academic freedom. The other twelve members of the Board of Governors (in addition to the ex officio chancellor and vice-chancellor) are nominated by their constituents and are not at-large members of the Board. Given that these twelve elected Governors are explicitly not at-large members, it is absurd to assume that they represent anybody but the constituencies that elected them – be it students, senate, academic staff, non-academic staff, or alumni.

That said, I do my best to represent the best interests of the entire university community. To that end, I do not report on open sessions of the Board of Governors exclusively to the academic staff, but instead report to the entire community via this blog. And I do so while abiding by the Board’s bylaws and by only discussing information from open sessions and open documents. My blogging is meant to “act in the best interests of the university as a whole”, which means I sometimes report on issues affecting students, non-academic staff and alumni, not just on issues affecting academic staff. This is also why I report on the Board of Governors seemingly violating its own bylaws. While I may not be representing the executive of the Board of Governors nor the university president’s office in this blog, I am doing by best to look after the entire Carleton community at-large.


Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, please contact Christal Côté at CUASA, voice 613-520-5608 or e-mail christal.cote[at] .

Book Chapters

University commons divided: exploring debate and dissent on campus by Peter MacKinnon (2018). Chapter 4: “Academic freedom and governance – a reprise: Carleton’s blogging board member” (pages 58–74). University of Toronto Press.

Newspaper and Magazine Coverage

Charlatan – “CUPE 2424 files legal complaint against Carleton” by Shaked Karabelnicoff (29 March 2018).

Ottawa Citizen – “After pension ‘bombshell,’ Carleton University, striking support workers to meet with mediator” by Joanne Laucius (26 March 2018). Print edition: 27 March 2018, page A4.

J-Source: The Canadian Journalism Project
– “Using freedom of information to assist whistleblowers and those under duress” by Ken Rubin (12 Feb 2018).

CAUT Bulletin
– “Carleton on probation” (11 Jan 2018). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 65(1): 9.

Charlatan – “
Board of Governors reaches settlement with Root Gorelick” by Jaqaun Morris (16 Jan 2018).

University Affairs
– “University boards in the spotlight: The deliberations of university boards seem to have become more rancorous and controversial of late. What’s going on?” by Moira MacDonald (3 Jan 2018).

– “CUASA president speaks out as Carleton nears CAUT censure vote deadline” by Ben Whipp (23 Nov 2017). Print edition: Charlatan 47(16): 4.

Charlatan – “GSA open letter warns BoG against censure” by Erica Pierre-Pierre (25 May 2017). Print edition: Charlatan 47(1): 2.

Charlatan – “Senate reports gender gap in faculty hiring” by Madison Ranta (25 May 2017). Print edition: Charlatan 47(1): 2.

Ottawa Citizen –
“Ours the task eternal: an exit interview with Carleton president Roseann O’Reilly Runte” by Joanne Laucius (31 March 2017).  Print edition: 1 April 2017, page A8.

CAUT Bulletin – “Governance on the rocks” (13 March 2017). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 64(3): 10-15 (featured on front cover).

CAUT Bulletin – “The slippery slope towards corporate-style governance” (13 March 2017). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 64(3): 4.

Charlatan – “Approval of sexual violence policy spurs reaction” by Emily Haws (17 Jan 2017). Print edition: Charlatan 46(18): 2.

Ottawa Citizen – “
Carleton board of governors passes sexual violence prevention policy” by Joanne Laucius (1 Dec 2016). Print edition: 2 December 2016, page A3.

Charlatan – “Carleton gets ‘F’ on Campus Freedom Index” by JaQuan Morris (24 Nov 2016).

CAUT Bulletin
– “Do you know who sits on your board?” by Valérie Dufour (12 Sept 2016). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 63(7): 4, 14-19 [cover story].

CAUT Bulletin – “In praise of scandal” by James Compton (12 Sept 2016). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 63(7): 5.

Charlatan – “Root Gorelick no longer on Carleton’s Board of Governors” by Sam Lehman (28 July 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 46(3): 2.

Ottawa Citizen –
“Faculty union files grievance after prof rejected from board” by Joanne Laucius (8 July 2016).

Ottawa Citizen – “Professor ‘invalidated’ from Carleton board of governors for refusing code of conduct” by Joanne Laucius (7 July 2016).

Academic Matters – “Obscuring transparency and silencing dissent: Carleton University’s Board of Governors” (31 May 2016). Print edition: Academic Matters (spring/summer): 10-14 [cover story].

Metro Canada (Ottawa) – “No-confidence vote not binding” by Sara Ericsson (20 April 2016).

Ottawa Citizen – “Carleton groups file no-confidence motions against board” by Aidan Cox (19 April 2016).

CAUT Bulletin – “Playing by the rules” by Pum van Veldhoven (18 April 2016). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 63(4): A5.

CAUT Bulletin – “Academic freedom at risk as shared governance is undermined: Governance issues across the country” (18 April 2016). Print edition: CAUT Bulletin 63(4): A1, A7.

Our Schools/Our Selves – “Gag orders in Council: Carleton University’s Board of Governors and silencing of dissent” (15 April 2016). Print edition: Our Schools/Our Selves 25(3): 35-50.

Charlatan – “Carleton board is silencing student representatives” by Michael Bueckert (6 April 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 45(30): 16.

Charlatan – “Carleton BoG votes to remove student unions, raise tuition fees” by Allison Gram (24 March 2016). Print edition Charlatan 45(28): 2.

Leveller – “Carleton’s BoG cements gag order in proposed bylaw changes: GSA continues to challenge Carleton and defend muzzled prof ” by the Leveller Staff [including Andy Crosby] (21 March 2016). Leveller 8(6): 5.

Ottawa Citizen – “Carleton board rejects recommendation to allow members to speak publicly about issues” by Chris Lowrey (18 March 2016).

Ottawa Citizen“Carleton University eyed expanding to the Experimental Farm: documents” by Elizabeth Payne (3 March 2016).

Charlatan – “Blog ignites discussion of honorary degrees” by Allison Gram (25 February 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 45(24): 3.

Charlatan – “Wernick should resign from Carleton’s board” by Rana Nazzal Hamadeh (23 February 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 45(24): 13.

Charlatan – “BoG is undermining student representation” by Michael Bueckert (9 February 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 45(23): 17.

Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ). “Managing defiance on a nonprofit board: a university case” by Dan Ehrenkrantz (3 February 2016).

Charlatan – “BoG amends code of conduct, students protest” by Drew May (28 January 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 45(21): 5.

Charlatan – “Carleton BoG member appointed to Privy Council” by Emily Haws (28 January 2016). Print edition: Charlatan 45(21): 3.

Ottawa Citizen – “Carleton professor retains board seat, vows ‘civil disobedience’ ” by Aeden Helmer (27 January 2016). Print edition: 28 January 2016, page A5.

CNW [Cision News Wire] “Ontario students stand behind Carleton students and faculty challenging Board of Governors ‘gag order’ ” by Canadian Federation of Students (26 January 2016).

Ottawa Citizen“Top bureaucrat’s past comments on ‘brownshirts’ spur protest” by Mark Kennedy (25 January 2016). Print edition: 26 January 2016, page A6.

Huffington Post – “Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council, urged to apologize for ‘totally unacceptable’ comments” by Zi-Ann Lum (25 January 2016).

PressProgress – “Canada’s new Head of the Public Service compared students protesting tuition fees to Nazis” [anon] (24 January 2016).

Leveller – “It’s time to democratize Carleton” [editorial] (25 Jan 2016). Leveller 8(4): 2.

Leveller – “Shining light on Carleton’s secretive Board of Governors” by Espoir Manirambona (25 January 2016). Leveller 8(4): 5.

Leveller – “BoG bogs down professor: Carleton’s Board of Governors updates Statement of General Duties to include social media activity” by Charissa Feres (25 January 2016). Leveller 8(4): 5.

Digital Journal – “Canada’s top civil servant called student protesters Brownshirts” by Ken Hanly (25 January 2016).

CAUT Bulletin – “Walking through the minefield of academic freedom” (January 2016). Print edition: 63(1): A1, A8.

CAUT Bulletin – “Governance nightmares” by Robin Vose (January 2016). Print edition 63(1): A3.

la Rotonde – “Bureau des gouverneurs: Désyndicalisation, confidentialité, liberté d’expression: formalité administrative ou outil de musèlement?” [“Board of Governors: Unionization, privacy, freedom of expression: administrative formalities or muzzling tool?”] by Yasmine Mehdi (18 January 2016).

Socialist Worker – “Corporate U goes on the offensive” by John Bell (18 December 2015). Original story at: Print edition: January 2016, number 579, page 9, at

Ottawa Citizen – “Carleton spat with faculty damaging university’s reputation, says governance expert” by Chris Cobb (15 December 2014).

Ottawa Citizen – “Prof refuses to sign agreement, Carleton faces censure over secrecy order” by Chris Cobb (14 December 2014). Print edition: 15 December 2015, page A4.

Canadian Press – “Carleton professor facing expulsion from board backed by university teachers” by Terry Pedwell (14 December 2014).

CBC News – “Carleton University student, staff groups demand governance changes: ‘We saw this as an attack,’ says student representative about proposed changes to board of Governors” by Elyse Skura (4 December 2015).

Ryersonian – “Ryerson prof blasts Carleton’s new policy breaching academic freedom” by Lana Hall (4 December 2015).

Ottawa Sun – “Carleton U risks international blacklist due to openness concerns” by Dani-Elle Dube (2 December 2015). Original story at:

Charlatan – “Carleton’s BoG under investigation by Canadian Association of University Teachers” by Sima Shakeri (3 December 2015). Original story at: Print edition: 3 December 2015; Volume 45, Issue 17, Page 2.

Junction – “Carleton gag order impacts students, professors” and “Reaction to gag order overwhelmingly negative on Twitter” by Olivia Bowden (1 December 2015).

Ottawa Citizen – “Carleton board of governors a free speech battleground” by Andrew Duffy (30 November 2015). Original story at: Print edition: 1 December 2015, page A4.

Ottawa Citizen – “Canadian university professors ‘condemn’ Carleton University board for gag order” by Chris Cobb (28 November 2015). Original story at: Print edition: 30 November 2015, page A4.

Radio Coverage

CFRA 580 AM, News Talk Radio – “Three groups pass no confidence motions against Carleton’s Board of Governors” by Jen Halsall (18 April 2016).

CJWW 600 AM – “Campus chill: threats to academic freedom” by Adam Brilz (7 April 2016).

CFRA 580 AM, News Talk Radio – “Carleton board of governors representative fights for academic freedoms” by Alison Sandor (14 December 2015).

CKCU 93.1 FM – “Carleton BoG Gags Committee (and not in a fun way)” interview by Joseph Hutt (8 December 2015). Interview at 12:00 – 26:00, plus more on BoG gags at 37:20 – 43:20.

CFRA 580 AM, News Talk Radio – “Blogging the Carleton Board of Governors” interview by Mark Sutcliffe (1 December 2015).


Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
– “Campus Freedom Index for Carleton University (2016)”

Alex Usher’s One Thought Blog
– “Carleton’s Loyalty Oath” by Alex Usher (24 August 2016).

Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) – “Faculty, staff, students at Carleton University vote ‘no confidence’ in the Board of Governors” (18 April 2016).

Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) – “CUASA unanimously passes motion of non-confidence in the Carleton University Board of Governors and senior administration” (11 April 2016).

Graduate Student Association (GSA) of Carleton University – “GSA Council unanimously passes motion of non-confidence in the Carleton University Board of Governors and senior administration” (8 April 2016).

Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) – Letter to Reza Moridi, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities (4 April 2016). Copy of letter here.

Graduate Student Association of Carleton University – “Carleton Board of Governors refuses to announce decision about Dr. Gorelick; ‘clarifies’ gag order” (27 January 2016).

Canadian Association of University Teachers – “CAUT supports Carleton U prof’s refusal to sign away his academic freedom” (14 December 2015).

CUPE Communiqué – “CUPE releases details of ‘stunning’ cut to Carleton pension plan that prompted legal complaint to provincial regulator” by Kevin Skerrett and Mary Unan (26 March 2018).